Megan Kimble is a food writer living in Tucson, Arizona, where she works as the managing editor of Edible Baja Arizona, a local-foods magazine serving Tucson and the borderlands. She is a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times and serves on the leadership council of the Pima County Food Alliance. She earned her MFA from the University of Arizona and works with the university's Southwest Center to promote food access and justice.
Her new book, Unprocessed, is a memoir of her experience of going an entire year without eating processed foods. In January of 2012, Megan Kimble decided she wanted to know where her food came from, how it was made, and what it did to her body: so she took a moratorium of eating processed foods, and started exploring the world of REAL food, by milling her own wheat, extracting salt from the sea, trying her hand in milking a goat, and she even slaughtered a sheep! However, Megan also discovered that Processed Foods went far deeper than just snacks and soda, it was the entire American food system of cheap foods, the globalization of produce and the raising of animals in factory farms, and of course, it was also tied to one’s socio economic reality, to gender, politics and money.
You likely already know that the food ingredient monosodium glutamate (MSG) isn’t good for you. You may even know some of the popular reasons why. But did you know that MSG is primarily used by the food industry to keep us addicted to ‘big taste, little nutrition’ food? It’s an industry secret. Read on to find out why MSG makes you eat more fast food while fattening up the food industry’s bottom line. Aside from high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, and ingredients made with chemicals called ‘flavor packets,’ MSG is at the top of the list of food additives to avoid. Monosodium Glutamate, or MSG, is a trigger substance that food makers are very aware of. It was put in food to cause pavlovian response, creating a trigger for you to eat more and never feel satiated. The FDA calls MSG ‘generally recognized as safe,’ though the ingredient has been found to cause skin rashes, itching, hives, vomiting, asthma, heart irregularities, seizures, chest pain, nausea, weakness, and especially headaches and migraines, among other health issues. A study published in the Journal of Headache Pain reveals how just a single dose of monosodium glutamate caused headaches in healthy subjects that were tested. This study conducted its research using double blind, placebo-controls and found that MSG intake caused
The fish-like omega-3 oil produced in the GM camellia plants at Rothamsted (see article below) is intended to feed fish in fish farms. Far from being a “sustainable” source of fish feed, as the Rothamsted researchers claim, this, like the vast acreage of GM soy and maize, is just another GM oilseed crop grown to feed livestock. This is an unsustainable use of land when practised on a large scale, since it displaces crops that could be used directly to feed people. The fish oil has not, as far as we know, been tested for toxicity in fish or other animals. Just in case the researchers are thinking of targeting human consumers with their fish-like oil, they should bear in mind the findings of a scientific review which found that there is no evidence that omega-3 oil benefits heart health – contrary to the implication by the pro-GMO Genetic Literacy Project, which links this type of oil with this benefit. Some studies show benefits of omega-3 oils for other health conditions, though under European law the developers of this GMO oil will need to prove health benefits in clinical trials before they can make health claims. Omega-3 oils are naturally present in many foods,
Pope Francis and Saving the Planet One Meal at a Time Gary Null & Richard Gale Progressive Radio Network, July 1, 2015 Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si, speaks not only on behalf of ardent environmental and social activists but also for the protectors of animal rights and opponents of the horrendous conditions farm animals face before being slaughtered to satiate the world’s taste for dead flesh. It is a clarion call not just to Catholics but to all citizens of the world to wake up to the destructive course humanity is embarking upon and the annihilation of the very infrastructure upon which human survival and the endurance of all other species depends. There is reason to feel optimistic that an international leader, responsible for the spiritual direction of 1.2 billion Catholics would take this stance against the powers who are determined to alter and destroy life as we know it. By focusing on the many benefits of preserving our environment, ecology, farmlands, and communities and cultures, the Pope is pointing the way towards what should be done if he can make one further step; that is to adopt a fully vegetarian or vegan diet. Even if only 10%
Struggling with mood swings, anxiety, brain fog or fatigue? If so, you may be GABA compromised. An important neurotransmitter that contributes to our overall sense of well-being, GABA production can become severely disrupted by chronic stress and during the dark winter months. Gut flora imbalance, environmental pollutants and pharmaceutical drug use are also associated with lowered levels. Those on a Paleo diet may suffer from insufficient GABA too. And while promoting neurotransmitter equilibrium can be an exercise of trial and error, several methods are available which show promise in promoting mood stability and brain health. One of the first steps is to forgo our usual (short term) energy kick of caffeine, refined sugar and excessive carbohydrates – all of which significantly wreak havoc on delicate brain chemistry. Instead, we focus on specific nutrients and increased amounts of healthy fats. Mood swings and the Primal diet Many of us have embraced a Paleo lifestyle as an effective way to slim down, boost energy and relieve food sensitivities to dairy and grains. But the diet has a dark underbelly that often includes an uptick in stress, anxiety and insomnia – all of which are associated with low GABA levels. One of the
Cuba is a global exemplar of organic, agroecological farming, taking place on broad swathes of land in and around its cities, write Julia Wright & Emily Morris. These farms cover 14% of the country’s agricultural land, employ 350,000 people, and produce half the country’s fruit and vegetables. But can they survive exposure to US agribusiness? For more than 20 years, Cuba has been developing a sophisticated urban and suburban food system, producing healthy food, improving the environment and providing employment. But how will the sector survive if the economy opens up to US agricultural and industrial trade and investment? The first urban farms emerged spontaneously in Cuba out of the hardships of the early 1990s. People in towns and cities began to cultivate urban waste land and keep small livestock as a coping strategy. Possibly the first co-ordinated effort was the Santa Fe project in the north-west of Havana City, initiated in 1991. Taking advantage of the available resources within the community, empty urban space was reclaimed for food production to help overcome irregular and inadequate food supplies. The principles of organic, or agroecological, farming were used to overcome the lack of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. These included making compost from local
New recommendations released earlier this year by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), an independent group of doctors and nutritionists, say we should cut down on meat for the sake of our health and the environment. In response, congressional Republicans are throwing a temper tantrum. But because “you can’t make us eat more fruits and vegetables” sounds kind of petulant, they’re pretending their objections are all about the science. The report, which informs the Dietary Guidelines for Americans that are updated every five years, found that “a diet higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in calories and animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with less environmental impact than is the current U.S. diet.” This is the first time the sustainability of our dietary choices has been taken into consideration by the DGAC; according to the report, it is “essential to ensure a healthy food supply will be available for future generations.” Yet the move has predictably been met with hostility, particularly on the part of the meat industry, which accused the recommendations of being “flawed” and “nonsensical.” Republicans agree. This past Wednesday, the House approved two spendingbills that would completely alter the way
“Our ancestors didn’t eat like this, so we shouldn’t.” This is the main ethos of many modern diets which advise us to exclude a number of recent additions to our plates because they were not part of our distant predecessors diet. There are many different variations on the theme – from all-encompassing “palaeolithic-style” diets to grain-free or gluten-free regimes – which are all generating a massive boom in specialised shops, products and even restaurants. The general idea is that for most of our millions of years of evolution we were not exposed to grains, milk, yogurt or cheese, refined carbs, legumes, coffee or alcohol. As they only came into existence with farming around 10,000 years ago, our finely-tuned bodies have not been designed to deal with them efficiently. The belief is that human evolution via survival of the fittest and natural selection is a very slow process and our genes classically take tens of thousands of years to change. This means that these “modern” foods cause various degrees of intolerance or allergic reactions, resulting not only in the modern epidemic of allergies, but also that the toxins lead to inflammation and obesity. So follow our Palaeolithic ancestors we are told,
Young people lack confidence and skills in the kitchen, with many considering microwaving a pizza to be cooking according to a study. They are also not worried about their health, believing that exercising will compensate for a poor diet and smoking. One female first year sports student said she was “just not bothering” about what she ate as she was physically active. The research by Lancaster, Newcastle and Durham Universities, is published in the Journal of Public Health. The researchers questioned young people aged 16-20 to find out their attitudes to food and how this can lead to obesity. Most were living at home and attending school or college but not university. Some believed they could not cook or expressed a lack of confidence with one young woman saying: “I can’t cook. I just can’t be bothered…I burn toast.” Their parents mostly bought the food and the teenagers heated the food up, with examples of food they cooked including pizza, chips, ready meals and cups of tea. The researchers said: “Cooking tended to be described as “jar” based; microwaving a pizza was considered to be cooking, as was cheese on toast which could indicate limited cooking skills. “The findings indicate
Food produced on small farms close to where it is consumed—or “local food” for short—accounts for only about 2% of all the food produced in the United States today, but demand for it is growing rapidly. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, sales of food going directly from farmers’ fields to consumer’s kitchens have more than tripled in the past twenty years. During the same period, the number of farmers’ markets in the United States has quintupled, and it’s increasingly easy to talk about “CSAs”—community-supported agriculture operations where consumers pay up front for a share in the season’s output—without explaining the acronym. But as local food has grown, so have the number of critics who claim that locavores have a dilemma. The dilemma, prominently argued by Pierre Desrochers and Hiroko Shimizu in their 2012 book The Locavore’s Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000-mile Diet, is that local food conflicts with the goal of feeding more people better food in an ecologically sustainable way. In other words, well-meaning locavores are inadvertently promoting a future characterized by less food security and greater environmental destruction. The critics are typically academics, and while not all of them are economists, they rely on economic arguments